I’ve played some weird gigs. Who hasn’t?
This week I’m releasing a live album! It’s drawn my mind back to some of the weirdest and most wonderful stages I’ve graced. There was one show, alongside world class pianist Martyna Jatkauskaite where we ate caviar under a chandelier in a mansion on a lake. Then there was a festival in a zoo, as in in an actual zoo- that was pretty surreal. But perhaps one of the strangest and most touching shows I played yet was in the small seaside town of Sankt Peter-Ording…
I was touring Germany with my band by train. We were a sight to behold- Alex wielding a double bass, Rene with his enormous suitcase of drums and Susy and I lugging an assortment of guitars and banjos as we bundled in and out of train carriages. We arrived in Sankt Peter-Ording, not a common stop for bands, and faithfully followed directions from the train station to the address given. Things started to get stranger and stranger. German addresses tend to be very accurate and very difficult to get wrong, yet we had most definitely arrived in a hospital carpark. I rang the promoter, Thomas. He was delighted that we’d arrived and instructed that we sign in at the Reha-Klinik and follow signs to Café Instinkt where the stage was set for sound-check. OK. My German isn’t great and I had failed to realise that we were actually booked to play a show in a hospital.
We had no idea what to expect. The audience poured in, non-alcoholic cocktails flowed from the bar and a full house awaited our set. It ended up being one of those shows where you truly feel like people get what you’re doing- that you’re playing music and it’s meaning something. I think I can speak for us all that we felt incredibly privileged to play that room. What an amazing thing for a hospital to do- to host live music for your patients? Funnily enough Thomas didn’t seem to think that what he was doing was in any way admirable. As I chatted to him about what a beautiful experience it had been he sort of just replied with technical questions- Had the PA been adequate? Did we love Rammstein? (I’d never heard of them to his despair!) His attitude seemed to be that he was simply running a music venue that happened to be inside a hospital. I couldn’t help but find this even more heartening.
Due to the extortionate hotel rates of this seaside town, we’d brought tents with us (as if we didn’t have enough to carry!) but as the weather packed in we found ourselves camping out in one of the hospital conference rooms through a maze of sliding doors and whiteboards. We showered and brushed our teeth where the hospital staff get into their scrubs. The next morning we trundled off to catch our train, feasting on bad coffee and chocolate croissants from the dining cart.